November 24, 2015 – newsday.co.tt
THREE years after the fact, Parliament has only this month received the annual report of the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC) for 2013.
That alone would be unsatisfactory were it not for the fact that the picture painted in the report is — to use an appropriate word — shocking.
For the year 2013 alone, TTEC reported a total comprehensive loss of $612 million. This was a somewhat better performance over 2012, when the loss was even more: $692 million. Improved performance or not, hundreds of millions are being lost at the State’s sole retailer of electricity and there are no signs of any meaningful let-up.
But the loss is not the end of the matter. TTEC has billions in debt.
According to the Administrative Report for 2013, debt to the National Gas Company (NGC) stood at $1.3 billion by the end of the period under review. The debt started at about $2 billion in 2012. In March 2014, a Parliament committee heard of TTEC having an overall debt of $2.5 billion to NGC, Trinidad Generation Unlimited and British bank HSBC.
The loss position, therefore, appears to paper over an even more unsustainable position for an entity which relies on the State to remain a going concern.
True, the TTEC outlook may improve given the fall of oil and gas prices. But the losses recorded should raise important questions about the need for self-sufficient State enterprises, balanced with the need to protect the interest of consumers and to cushion the economy from the inflationary effects of price increases.
The company has a history of loss-making: in 2007 it recorded a loss of $85.5 million. Just as we debate the fuel subsidy and foregone revenue caused by the abeyance of property tax, a serious discussion needs to happen in relation to the extent to which electricity should be subsidised by taxpayers. Should industrial customers be made to shoulder more costs so that more revenue is generated to allow TTEC to improve its operations? It is also important to note the $212 million loss came in the year of a crippling nationwide shutdown in power which triggered a national security alert. Indeed, though the cost of providing the country with electricity remains burdensome, there has been no concomitant improvement in the quality of supply. Blackouts continue to occur, as in December 2014, August 2010 and July 2010.
The 2013 blackout was blamed on a disruption from the sole supplier of natural gas: the NGC.
This alone points to the need for a more sustainable model of electricity generation which will be versatile and able to withstand the vagaries of one supply mode. Now is as good a time as any to discuss the generation of power from sources not related to the petrochemical industry.
The global movement for measures to tackle climate change and to reduce the role of oil has a direct bearing on this country.
Climate change will be one of the key issues taken up by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting later this week, as will energy initiatives.
TTEC’s importance cannot be over-emphasised. The provision of a reliable electricity supply is essential to transforming Trinidad and Tobago into a more developed nation. Not only was a gas supply problem the main factor in the 2013 outage, but manpower and technical problems also featured and it is hoped these have been satisfactorily addressed.
Meanwhile, we return to the question of why it has taken so long for the 2013 report to surface in Parliament. The delay amounts to a blackout of pertinent information.
This seems in line with TTEC’s history: a similar thing occurred in relation to the years 2001, 2002, and 2003. But the utility must do much better when it comes to shining a light on its operations.
6 thoughts on “Shocking TTEC $612M loss”
Shocking indeed all state run enterprise are poorly and badly manage they are a drain on the economy.
KAMLA…now THAT was a DRAIN on the economy!
There is something wrong with this picture and it is definitely not difficult to tell – responsibility. Managerial responsibility is something that this government should take very seriously (because only a PNM government and do it). After the management of this last PP government there is one thing that is perfectly clear – they spend money like drunkard sailors. The people whom they delegated to manage the state resources do not feel as though they have a responsibility to spend the government money wisely. Most of these people (who manage the state enterprise) have become anonymous to the public, because they get their appointment with a letter from the minister responsible and they are not necessarily known to the public. Government has to take responsibility for this kind of callous awarding of management to whom the political entity favors. In making appointments to head these various state enterprises, the government should enact policies, whereby those nominated should be brought to hearings before parliamentary committees, in order to determine their suitability for the job. At the hearings, mention should be made of their educational qualifications, skills set, management style, abilities, recommendations, experience and personal habits, yes personal habits. After the nominated person gets a chance to present himself/herself for public hearings, then and only then should their nomination be considered for approval. Most of these people manage a budget runnings into hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars, so this appointment should not be left just to the judgement of the Prime Minister. Parliament and the people should be given a opportunity to know who is going to spend their money. It was classless of Roodal Moonilal to employ Rabindranath Moonan to head the HDC when he (Moonan) was fired for the poor job he did at the Caribbean Air. We need to have responsible ministers as well and responsible managers. If they fail then the public should be so notified immediately. So, in Moonan’s case he was fired at Caribbean Air, hired at HDC and did just as poorly at HDC. The man who hired him should be just as responsible and must be told so in no uncertain terms. If such policies were to be employed, I am sure we would have better candidates for the jobs they are now given (just because they can).
I KEEP ON TELLING THIS NATION THAT OUR ELECTRICITY SYSTEM WILL ALWAYS BE VULNERABLE AS LONG AS OUR NGC SYSTEM REMAINS UNFIXED. JONES BADLY CRAFTED THIS SYSTEM UNDER JULIEN. AND WE ALL SUFFER. THEY CONTINUE TO STRIVE THANKS TO THE ARROGANCE OF THE KAMLA PP. NGC HAS IMPURITIES SUCH AS HEAVY HYDROCARBONS IN BULK THAT PASS THE SLUG CATCHERS BECAUSE THE PRESSURE AT THAT POINT KEEPS THEM IN THE GASEOUS PHASE. WHEN THE NGC NATURAL GAS DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM PSIG REACHES POINT LISAS AT UNDER 600 PSIG FROM SOURCE 1800 PSIG (JOULE THOMPSON EFFECT) THEY BECOME COLD LIQUID THAT CHOKE NORMAL DESIGNED VALVING and like your tap after WASA do works in the system and there is air in the lines as your water supply comes back you get the choking and the eventual damage to your valve (faucet) trims. THIS IS CALLED TWO PHASED DAMAGING AND VALVE FAILURE: THIS IS WHEN YOUR ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BLACKS OUT ON YOU. PHEONIX PARK NEEDS TO TAKE THE ENTIRE GAS STREAM NOT PART OF IT. AS THIS PLANT GETS OLDER WITH THE FALSE PAPERed PERSONNEL RUNNING IT IT WILL SHUTDOWN MORE OFTEN (IT HAS AN ESD SYSTEM THAT PROTECTS THE PLANT NOT THE THE NGC SYSTEM) ALL KAMLA DID WAS TO BUY BACK PHEONIX PARK WHICH WAS ALLOWED TO COVER THEIR ARSE AND FOR THEM TO EAT A FOOD COMPLIMENTS OF CONOCO. WE NEED TO ALWAYS GET OUR OWN WHO DO NOT HAVE FALSE PAPERS LIKE THEM TO DO OUR DO. UNIVERSITY DEGREES WITHOUT THE PROPER, ADEQUATE EXPERIENCE BUYS YOU NOTHING IN THIS LIFE. ROWLEY IS SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO WILL DISAPPOINT HIM JUST LIKE KAMLA. WE ARE THE ONES WHO CONTINUE TO SUFFER, ESPECIALLY THE MIXED BREED LIKE ME.
AND ROWLEY PUTS WHO IN CHARGE AT PETROTRIN AND WITH WHAT PAPERS AND TRACK RECORD AND WHO ARE HIS CONNECTIONS? WHAT HAS HE ACHIEVED IN LIFE? WHO VETS THESE APPLICATIONS? WITH HIS PROFESSION ACHIEVEMENT ALONE, HE JUST CANNOT FIX THE MESS THE LAST DRUNKARD LEFT BEHIND
IT SEEMS YOU MUST HAVE AN ELECTRICAL PAPER to get work with the PNM. KAMLA CONSULTED HIM ON THE LAST HUGE OUTAGE IN 2013 AND WELL IS IT NOT OBVIOUS HE HAD NOTHING TO ADD. PETROTRIN IS A FAR MORE COMPLEX FISH TO RUN.
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